A Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS), sometimes referred to as a Computerized Maintenance Management Information System (CMMIS), is a valuable tool for HTM professionals. As technology advances, CMMS is becoming even more important for HTM professionals as they strive to maintain medical devices in health care facilities.
TechNation magazine reached out to companies and professionals in the HTM community to find out the latest on CMMS. We asked them to share their insights with readers. Participating in this roundtable article are Sandra Calderon, Senior Systems Analyst at INOVA Health Systems, Falls Church, Virginia, and Senior Consultant at FBC-Tesseract Solution Provider, (SME-Clinical Engineering); Jesse Happ, Eastern Region Director of Imaging Services, Renovo Solutions; Tommy Lee, Chief Technology Officer, Connectiv; Vishal Malhotra, Chief Technology Officer, EQ2; and Ben Mannisto, President and CEO, Phoenix Data Systems.
Q: How does a CMMS benefit Healthcare Technology Management (HTM) departments?
Calderon: Healthcare Technology Management departments can greatly benefit from implementing a CMMS system in their organization. A CMMS system is a powerful tool that can keep track of all of the organization’s assets, track work orders, maintain asset history, schedule tasks, manage contract administration, and customized reporting. It can also help with regulatory compliance with full audit trails.
Happ: A robust CMMS system is the engine for an HTM department. A single solution that can be used by everyone from the customer and the service engineer to those at the executive level. It is essential. Each area will have its role in the service process. CMMS systems that have the ability to provide online or phone service request/tracking, documentation of the services performed, and financial and regulatory management in a single solution will benefit a HTM department.
Lee: Modern CMMS solutions should go well beyond the traditional bounds of just “managing maintenance” and be strategic solutions that improve efficiency and increase visibility at all levels intra-departmentally, inter-departmentally, and enterprise-wide from technicians to operation managers to buyers to executives.
Malhotra: The HTM department is the only department in the hospital that has all the critical information required for effective life cycle management of medical devices. With the solid design and architecture of a good CMMS application and the HTM department’s business processes, the HTM department can be one of the key players in the hospital to help reduce the cost of ownership of medical devices and to make a safer environment of care for patients and clinicians. The right CMMS should help bring visibility of the HTM department to the C-suite. It benefits the department to manage regulatory compliance with ease.
Mannisto: A CMMS can be a powerful management tool when properly and fully implemented. The CMMS will provide management with a means to achieve regulatory compliance while identifying where remediation is required. Through dashboards and reporting, the CMMS provides managers with information regarding department PM and CM completion, departmental costs, vendor provided services and more.
Q: What are the most important functions and features to keep in mind when purchasing a CMMS system for a HTM department?
Calderon: The ability to keep up with the professional’s expectations as they continue to evolve. As well as staying abreast with the new advances in technology.
Happ: All of the CMMS systems do the basics. What’s more important to me is technician workflow steps, and the tools to harvest the data. I would also expect my CMMS product to constantly evolve as technology advances. If a product has not had a major advancement within the last two years I would question the product and its future use within my organization.
Lee: The most important functions and features are:
Reporting/Dashboards – The ease and speed at which users of all roles and responsibilities can get decision data out of their CMMS system is key. Due to variability of reporting requirements, the quantity of canned reports a CMMS system ships with should no longer be the measure of quality for reporting. Instead, HTM departments should evaluate the ease at which users can create reports and dashboards within the CMMS systems they are evaluating.
Flexibility/Agility – No two HTM departments run exactly the same way. As such, beyond core CMMS capabilities, HTM departments should evaluate the flexibility of CMMS systems on the market. Modern CMMS systems need to be malleable enough to meet evolving customer-specific business processes and regulatory requirements without impacting downstream upgrades.
Consolidation – With acquisitions of health systems still occurring at a rapid pace, having a modern CMMS system that can quickly onboard new users, assets, locations, etc. is critical. Additionally, modern CMMS systems should be architected with centralized HTM operations in mind. Meaning, data and process should be easily divisible and securable (e.g. by site, by region), as defined by the unique requirements of HTM departments, but also have the ability to quickly provide holistic visibility.
Malhotra: A CMMS should provide built-in intelligence for regulatory compliance, like the ability to classify AEM, auto identifying life support, critical – non life support and low-risk devices. It should also have the ability to document tester information along with the tester’s history. A CMMS application should have the capability for two way communication with automatic electrical safety analyzers, electronic recalls/alert integration, managing and tracking Service Level Agreement (SLA), stock management with semi-auto reordering ability, powerful multiple frequency PM scheduling with parts, configurable call escalation based on the hospital’s corporate policy and electronic library support. The support for smartphones and tablets is also critical.
Mannisto: It is important to ensure the quality of user data. Valid data entry is the cornerstone to accurate and required reporting. Additionally, the system should be intuitive and easy to use, offering drop down, valid entry pick lists enabling the user to quickly enter data. The ability to make global changes to large groups of equipment, vendors, work orders and more is a valuable feature that can save time versus hours of manual data entry.
Q:How can HTM professionals be certain to purchase a CMMS that will meet their needs?
Calderon: The CMMS vendor should be able to provide a demo customized to the customer’s needs and wants. By having this demo, you will be able to get the feel of the system and have the ability to tailor it in a way that will be best utilized by your organization.
Happ: You have to know your needs first as a department and organization. Identifying a wish list that has input from the clinical staff, risk management, accounting, executive leadership and clinical engineering will help guide the vetting process.
Lee: In addition to developing the “here and now” internal business requirements for an evaluation, the answer is community and partnerships. HTM professionals should continue to get to know what their peers are doing in the industry. Also, don’t underestimate the value of vendors that treat the customer-vendor relationship as a mutually beneficial partnership in which they take time to truly understand their customers’ needs, share their knowledge/experience from other customers, and adapt their solution to a customer’s processes instead of a department’s processes and potential being dictated by the tool.
Malhotra: HTM professionals should translate their goals into measureable metrics with milestones for short-term and long-term goals. Then, they should assure that these are achievable by the CMMS application that they are considering. HTM professionals must verify the technological strength of the vendor. One way to verify is to see if they are certified by companies like Microsoft or Oracle (based on the technology the vendor uses for the development). It is also critical to check the customer satisfaction level of the vendor’s current customers (by references and/or by studies published by independent bodies). Finally, make sure that your future vision matches the vendor’s future vision.
Mannisto: When purchasing a CMMS, it is important to choose a vendor that offers scalability with respect to users, components and, especially, new technology. Your CMMS should be able to meet your current needs while offering the ability to add to your system as needs increase. The CMMS should include reports that meet your current needs, while consistently providing new reports as regulatory requirements change. Implementing a new CMMS can be an expensive endeavor, so it is important to look at vendor longevity and examine the reasons behind that longevity. Your CMMS should be user-driven to enhance and bring the software forward to meet your needs, rather than the needs of the vendor.
Q: What are some common CMMS challenges and how can HTM professionals overcome them?
Calderon: The challenges of wireless devices to access the CMMS system when you’re on the go. The cost, security, and coverage can impact the decision to add mobile/handheld devices to the workflow. But considering the many benefits, for example, improving efficiency, saving time and reducing data entry errors, the mobile solution is proven to enhance performance and improve productivity. In the long run, the system will pay for itself.
Happ: A common CMMS problem I run into when consulting with prospective clients is the lack of a standard models database that uses industry standard naming conventions. Too often we run across like model devices input with different model names and device descriptions ex. AMX 4 Plus and AMX 4+. When vetting a new CMMS system I would make sure a model’s database is included and a simple way to input new entries with some kind of validation process.
Lee: In addition to challenges around reporting, flexibility/agility, and ease of consolidation addressed earlier, healthcare technology is becoming increasingly dependent on the data network which requires greater collaboration with IT. HTM professionals should evaluate modern CMMS solutions’ ability to interface with IT in processes where necessary. For example, when a backend change is being proposed to EMR infrastructure, there should be visibility to which devices may be impacted and the process should include the HTM decision makers’ input and approval around factors such as the ideal time for the change to be made.
Malhotra: Data inconsistency is a common problem with many CMMS applications as they do not have built-in business intelligence to automate the processes. This limitation of a CMMS application leads to more dependency on technicians for consistent data entry every time, which is difficult if not impossible. A CMMS should have configurable exception reporting tools to help HTM professionals review any inconsistency in data entry, based on the department’s business processes. The HTM department should have a policy to review this exception report on a fixed interval. No reporting tool can provide reliable business metrics with inconsistent data.
Mannisto: One of the biggest challenges for department managers is having the appropriate information at exactly the time it is needed. Staying on top of emergency situations – such as all three of your CT machines are down for repair – can be difficult, if not impossible, unless the CMMS has a mechanism to notify managers of those types of situations. Managing labor costs, part costs and contracted service costs are likewise challenging. It is important to be able to justify necessary staffing levels to the C-suite. Implementing best practices can seem like a daunting task, but if your CMMS vendor provides services to implement best practices, operations can be streamlined and more efficient.
Q: How has the growth of mobile/handheld devices impacted CMMS?
Calderon: With the heightened interest of mobile/handheld devices many are seeing the benefits it can bring. Therefore, many CMMS systems have invested in this technology and now offer the option of a mobile solution.
Happ: Due to newer mobile technology solutions like tablets, smartphones, and hybrid touch screen laptops with different operating systems, CMMS providers have been challenged to create solutions that are compatible across the board. Also not all service engineers have the same documentation processes. Some technicians like to document on the fly while others will return to their workspace and complete documentation. With that in mind, CMMS providers will need to have a flexible solution that can quickly adapt to the various technologies and work habits.
Lee: From my perspective, the effect of handheld devices has not been as dramatic as was once envisioned. While the size profile of smartphones offers a level of convenience, developing flexible user interfaces that can precisely match the experience from desktop to smartphone has been a challenge in the software industry overall. Tablets are also a tempting form factor, but with the evolution of laptops (e.g. Surface Pro, Macbook) that are lightweight, have fantastic battery life, and include a physical keyboard, it’s difficult for tablets to match a laptop’s productivity. However, an area where there has been benefit is in the area of barcode scanning where a smartphone’s camera can be utilized for actions such as asset inventory scans.
Malhotra: CMMS applications have adopted to the latest technological development of handheld devices like smartphones and tablets and with this capability, the right CMMS now provides real-time, easy-to-use applications that have reduced time for documentation with more consistency in data entry. This has helped in effectively managing the call escalation process along with increased ability to provide real-time reporting and feedback to managers and customers. It also has provided the capability for the technicians to have access to the electronic library (technical manuals, drawings, plans) right in the field. With this advancement, technicians now have all of the information regarding equipment history, parts suppliers, contracts, etc. at their fingertips.
Mannisto: Mobile devices have quickly become the current technology, and are a must for any CMMS. Mobile devices meet many needs including real-time notification of newly added work requests, and the ability for technicians to go paperless. Mobile devices should be able to go offline with no data loss. The use of a mobile device can increase a technicians’ efficiency more than 30 minutes each day by eliminating the need for the tech to return to a workstation to enter data, or to a printer to retrieve new work orders.
Q: What else do you think TechNation readers need to know about purchasing a CMMS?
Calderon: Before purchasing a CMMS system, consider selecting a vendor that has prior experience with the medical field and can provide consistent service and support during all phases of the buying process.
Happ: Sometimes the more features that are available doesn’t always mean it’s a superior product. However, with increased medical device integration to IT networks and the introduction of IEC 80001 risk guidelines, I feel it is essential for a CMMS system to play a role in the identification, tracking and risk mitigation of these networked medical devices.
Lee: For a variety of reasons, HTM departments are required to be less and less siloed. Therefore, purchasing a modern CMMS is not only for the benefit of the HTM department, but also for the strategic benefit of the organization overall. Your CMMS should be powerful enough to meet your requirements without compromise while, at the same time, being able to provide C-level executives the visibility needed to support and evolve the business.
Malhotra: Proactive maintenance is not a dream anymore. The ability of a 21st century CMMS for interoperability with medical devices, using open standard architecture like IHE PCD (HL7), helps reduce downtime by proactively monitoring medical devices and auto-creating repair work orders for faults/issues before even noticed by clinicians. The technicians are auto-notified for these issues. CMMS applications should also have the capability for RTLS integration. The application should provide tools to quickly review and balance the annual PM load. It should help indicate if you need more FTEs based on corrective and preventive workload projections and have the capability to import inventory from Excel and tracking capability of all updates, additions and deletions.
Mannisto: There are five things to consider when purchasing a CMMS: stability and longevity of the vendor; guaranteed software evolution to keep up with changing technology and regulatory agency requirements; superior technical support; quality and integrity of data converted from legacy system; and attentiveness and responsiveness of the CMMS vendor.
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